Peter Criss
Peter Criss 1996

Born Peter George Criscoula on December 20, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York, Peter Criss got his start drumming after discovering legendary jazz drummer Gene Krupa. He formed Kiss with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons in the early 70's and stayed with the band until 1980. Peter Criss was the one Kiss member who just could never get it together outside of Kiss. His first two solo albums "Let Me Rock You" and "Out of Control" strayed so far from the hard rock of Kiss that most fans just were not interested. A discouraged Peter Criss disappeared for years playing sparce shows in clubs in the East Coast area, doing mostly oldies covers, but never releasing anything commercially until 1994's Criss-Cat #1.

Peter Criss - Out of Control (Mercury) 1980

1. "By Myself" (3:34)
2. "In Trouble Again" (3:20)
3. "Where Will They Run?" (3:52)
4. "I Found Love" (3:27)
5. "There's Nothing Better" (3:34)
6. "Out of Control" (4:02)
7. "Words" (4:44)
8. "You Better Run" (2:42)
9. "My Life" (3:42)
10. "Feel Like Letting Go" (5:18)

It's no secret that Peter was never a huge fan of heavy metal or hard rock. He had always been a bigger fan of Motown-inspired R&B. Part of the reason he split with Kiss was over the fact that he was tired of the music that Kiss was playing. However, knowing that his first solo album was going to be mostly played by Kiss fans, you would think that he might want to at least attempt to record a song or two in that style. However, that is not the case at all. Honestly I have yet to meet somebody who actually loves these albums beyond the Kiss-collect-ability of them. I mean, I am a huge Kiss fan and I really enjoy the solo work of Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and even guys like Vinnie Vincent, but Peter's albums always brings thoughts of red velvet, bubble machines and Las Vegas. OK, maybe it's not quite that lame. There are some weak attempts at rock n roll, but in reality there is really nothing outstanding like some of the work he did with Kiss. I suppose with a title like "Out of Control" and an album cover with an exploding jukebox I expected something a little more energetic and explosive. Most of this album was co-written by Criss and longtime friend and songwriter Stan Penridge, who also co-wrote such Kiss classics as "Baby Driver".

In 2012 Peter Criss published his autobiography titled "Makeup to Breakup". In it he discussed this album, "It was incredibly liberating making my kind of music again...The songs were heavier than the stuff I had done of my KISS solo album. It was like going back to my roots and pulling out Nautilus and the Sounds of Soul and adding some British (heavy) metal to it. I though the fans would love it." "I could have put an actual photo of Deb (Peter's Playboy centerfold wife) naked on the cover and the album wouldn't have sold...because the record company buried the album."

Let me Rock You Peter Criss - Let Me Rock You (Mercury) 1982

1. "Let It Go" (4:05)
2. "Tears" (3:36)
3. "Move on Over" (3:48)
4. "Jealous Guy" (3:58)
5. "Destiny" (4:11)
6. "Some Kinda' Hurricane" (4:04)
7. "Let Me Rock You" (3:37)
8. "First Day in the Rain" (3:32)
9. "Feel Like Heaven" (3:43)
10. "Bad Boys" (3:28)

Let me rock you . . . to sleep. What exactly was Peter thinking when he released his two solo albums in the early 80's? I mean thoughts of Jimmy Buffet, Firefly, Air Supply and Ned Flanders for sure. Just goes to show you what a Kiss freak I am to own these two albums. The title tracks is a doo-wap, Russ Ballard penned song. "First Day in the Rain" was written by Steve Stevens and 'Jealous Guy' is a John Lennon song. Gene Simmons also offers some song writing in "Feel like Heaven." To make things worse, Vince Poncia brings his slick Kiss 'Unmasked' sensibilities to the production. As I said in the beginning, Let Me Rock You to Sleep. Anyone for a catnap?

Criss - Cat #1 (TNT) 1994

1.   "Bad Attitude" (4:35)
2.   "Walk the Line" (3:49)
3.   "Truth" (4:54)
4.   "Bad People Burn in Hell" (3:47)
5.   "Show Me" (4:04)
6.   "Good Times" (4:36)
7.   "Strike" (4:45)
8.   "Blue Moon over Brooklyn" (5:23)
9.   "Down with the Sun" (4:37)
10.  "We Want You" (3:48)
11.  "Beth" (2:48)

Cat #1 featured a guest appearance by Ace Frehley, a front cover with Peter Criss wearing his Cat make-up on half his face, and a new version of the Kiss classic "Beth." Criss & his band toured with Frehley's Comet, all of this raising hopes that the original Kiss may get back together. Peter Criss showed up at one of the Kiss Convention's where Gene and Paul invited him on stage to sing a song with them. This was the beginning of the reunion.

As for this album, it features some very Kiss-like hard rock with Peter Criss on vocals. "Cat #1" is much better than either of Peter Criss' 1980's solo albums. Not a disc that frequents my cd player but a nice collector's disc nonetheless, especially for the $2.50 I paid for it.

One For All Peter Criss – One For All (Silvercat Records) 2007

1.   One For All (4:48)
2.   Doesn't Get Better Than This (5:09)
3.   Last Night (4:28)
4.   What A Difference A Day Makes (4:25)
5.   Hope (2:48)
6.   Faces In The Ground (3:36)
7.   Send In The Clowns (3:52)
8.   Falling All Over Again (4:42)
9.   Whisper (4:16)
10. Heart Behind The Hands (3:39)
11. Memories (3:49)
12. Space Ace (5:10)

Growing up, Kiss were one of the heavy rock bands of their time. Back in the 70's they were at the forefront of American heavy metal and hard rock. As such, many of us that grew up with band just assumed that the members of the band were all fans of hard rock and heavy metal. That's why so many of us were disappointed with Criss's 1978 solo effort, as opposed to Paul Stanley or Ace Frehley's hard rock approach. However, longtime Kiss fans know that the Catman has always been more of a fan of rhythm and blues, big band and American crooners like Frank Sinatra than he ever was a hard rocker. Sure, Criss raspy voice fit perfectly on hard rock songs like "Black Diamond", "Hooligan" and "Baby Driver". However, he was certainly more comfortable with the material he recorded on his solo record, or even the orchestral ballad "Beth".

"One for All" is Criss's first solo effort since 1994 and is completely self-produced. It definitely falls into Criss' comfort zone. It is, in fact, quite a bit more subdued than his 1978 solo effort. Of the twelve songs, none of them really break into hard rock terrain, no less heavy metal. Rather, Criss is comfortable with the more laid back rhythm and blues approach of songs like "Don't Get Better Than This". The song features some nice blues-based guitar playing by Criss' partner Mike McLaughlin. Likewise, "Heart Behind he Hands" is a blues based song that features a spirited guitar solo.

As might be expected, there are plenty of ballads on this solo effort, and in fact, I'd describe much of this album as ballads, or at least ballad-like. "Last Night" is a minimalist song with Peter's raspy voice out in front. "Hope" is a ballad with orchestration while "Whisper" is built around some very light and delicate guitar work. Peter's voice sounds very frail at times. The album ends with a trippy song titled "Space Ace" that I can only assume is a tribute to Peter's friend and Kiss bandmate Ace Frehley.

It's interesting to note that "One For All" was at least partially inspired by the tragedy in New York City on 9/11/01 but is also autobiographical in nature. I have no doubt that Peter poured his heart and soul into the lryrics. Peter also designed the cover arts. In the album title that is wrapped around the globe, the two”L’s” in ALL are the Twin Towers.

To be quite honest, I'm a Kiss fanatic and that is my main reason for owning this collection of songs. I grew up with Kiss. Peter grew up with Sinatra. As such, this type of music will appear more to people into crooner music than heavy rock and roll.

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